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Sept. 28, 2004 at 5:53 PM
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Tiny clues found in thunderstorm formation

BOULDER, Colo., Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Three-dimensional portraits of thunderstorms across the U.S. Midwest have revealed previously unknown small, embedded wind circulations.

The field study coordinated by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in 2003 found the small circulations not only spew destructive straight-line winds, but may spawn up to 20 percent of all U.S. tornadoes.

Based east of St. Louis, the Bow Echo and MCV Experiment known as BAMEX employed aircraft and ground-based storm chasers to document a wide range of storm types that swept the Midwest from May to July 2003. Over a dozen colleges and universities joined NCAR and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for BAMEX.

The research also showed the remnant circulations from large thunderstorm clusters can survive for days, triggering new storm cells. Over warm oceans, similar remnant circulations provide seed for hurricane development.

A summary of the findings will be presented on Oct. 5 in Hyannis, Mass., at the American Meteorological Society's 22nd Conference on Severe Local Storms.


New insights into Gulf War syndrome

DALLAS, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Dallas researchers have uncovered damage in a specific, primitive part of the nervous systems of veterans suffering from Gulf War syndrome.

The University of Texas team's work, summarized in the October issue of the American Journal of Medicine, found that damage to the parasympathetic nervous system may account for nearly half of the typical symptoms, including gallbladder disease, unrefreshing sleep, depression, joint pain, chronic diarrhea and sexual dysfunction, that afflict those with Gulf War syndrome.

"The high rate of gallbladder disease in these men, reported in a previous study, is particularly disturbing because typically women over 40 get this. It's singularly rare in young men," said Dr. Robert Haley, lead author of the study.

The parasympathetic system regulates primitive, automatic bodily functions such as digestion and sleep, while the sympathetic nervous system controls the "fight or flight" instinct.

The research was supported by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, the U.S. Public Health Service and the Perot Foundation.


Primer on sports concussions is published

DALLAS, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- A Dallas-based association of athletic trainers has issued a primer on recognizing and responding to concussions.

The National Athletic Trainers' Association's position statement on sports-related concussions is being published in the fall issue of the Journal of Athletic Training.

The statement reflects 20 months of research, interpretation and writing, conducted by a prominent team of experts that included lead author Kevin Guskiewicz, Robert Cantu and six other health care professionals representing the fields of athletic training, sports medicine, neurology, neuropsychology and general medicine.

The statement's summary is organized into eight sections: "Defining and Recognizing the Concussion," "Evaluating and Making the Return-to-Play Decision," "Concussion Assessment Tools," "When to Refer an Athlete to a Physician After Concussion," "When to Disqualify an Athlete," "Special Considerations for the Young Athlete," "Home Care" and "Equipment Issues."


Experts challenge quake advice e-mail

SAN RAFAEL, Calif., Sept. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. earthquake experts said an e-mail circulating on the Internet is giving inaccurate information about how people should protect themselves during quakes.

The e-mail, called "Triangle of Life," is authored by Doug Copp, who identifies himself as "the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world's most experienced rescue team." Among its recommended actions during an earthquake is "Everyone who simply "ducks and covers" when buildings collapse is crushed to death -- Every time, without exception. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are always crushed."

The problem, according to agencies such as the American Red Cross, is such a recommendation is "inaccurate for application in the United States and inconsistent with information developed through earthquake research."

The current recommended procedure for personal earthquake protection, according to Rocky Lopes, manager of the ARC's Community Disaster Education, is called "drop, cover and hold on," meaning seek refuge under a heavy object such as a desk.

"That recommendation is based on U.S. Building Codes and construction standards" and "has saved lives in the United States," Lopes said.

"The Red Cross strongly advises not trying to move ... during the shaking of an earthquake," he said. "The more and the longer distance that someone tries to move, the more likely they are to become injured by falling or flying debris, or by tripping, falling, or getting cut by damaged floors, walls, and items in the path of escape."

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